A town hall for those living or working in Dubuque, Iowa: Ways to hold all life sacred
By Sr. Gemma Doll of the Dominican Sisters of Peace
I rode into the Zooming Nuns on the Bus trip all the way to Des Moines, Iowa. Many of the participants were from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which hosted us. Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell expanded Pope Francis’ call that Catholics hold all life sacred.
In small-group sessions, both Catholics and other faith believers resonated with the idea that every issue is connected. As a pro-life Catholic and a pediatric nurse, I know that to save the life of the unborn, I must care for the health of the pregnant mother and ensure adequate housing as well as access to quality health care, and she must have a healthy diet and not suffer discrimination. Above all, she depends on Mother Earth’s health to provide resources for her and her unborn baby.
We enter political discussions through one door and realize that the house of multi-issues is equally important. That is why I am a multi-issue Catholic voter!
Two parables about vineyards and the people who tend them. Neither story has a happy ending. Isaiah tells of a fertile hillside that receives wonderful care. But in the end it produces rotten grapes. In the Gospel it is the tenants who care for the vineyard that prove to be selfish and do evil things.
These two reading are separated by a lovely reading from the letter to the Philippians. In this reading Paul tell us not to be anxious but to continue to do good. Where is our message for this Sunday? If we take the reading from Philippians as our base, it can guide us through the other readings.
If we are truly examine our actions and find them trustworthy, God is and will be with us. If we rely on God to guide even though the way may be dark and unknown, then “the God of peace will be with us”.
But we so often go about our usual way of doing things. We receive wonderful care like the vineyard in the first reading. But we don’t tend to our inner life with as much care. We let superficial or material matters take precedence. We sometimes let our prayer simply be words without letting the mystery of God sink deep in our hearts. We look good one the outside but are superficial on the inside. So the real product we produce is like the rotten grapes in the reading from Isaiah.
Or sometimes, like the Gospel, we get so possessive of our corner of the vineyard that we don’t listen to the suggestions others may have. We have to do things our way and don’t want anyone to interfere or criticize or give helpful suggestions. In always doing things our way, we drive away people and/or ideas that can help us become more authentic persons.
When we don’t really tend to our inner life or when we insist that my way is the only way and don’t heed the advice of the wise persons among us, then it is impossible to really have that inner peace that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Philippians.
Let us examine our lives – our motives, the depth of our relationship with God, our relationships with others. Then as Paul says, “if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise…keep on doing what you have learned and received and heart…Then the God of peace will be with you.”
This is the third and final blog on common good voting as we prepare for our national election.
“In the U.S. we will advocate for common-sense gun control laws such as requiring universal background checks before purchasing arms, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, promoting strategies to prevent gun violence, and provide adequate financial resources to establish mental health programs for victims and predators and prevention for at-risk people.”
Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates 2013
They are called “The Mass Shooting Generation” and they demand change. They were born into a world reshaped by the 1999 Columbine High School attack that left 13 people dead. They have lived through the Sandy Hook shooting of six-year-olds and their teachers. They stood in fear and shock at the Stoneman Douglas high school attack in Florida.
In this generation, six-year-olds are forced to practice active shooter drills. Parents buy bullet-proof backpacks for their children. According to the National Center for PTSD, 28 percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and about a third will develop acute stress disorder Our children are suffering mental exhaustion.
Since Stoneman Douglas, these young people have organized around the country, meeting with state and federal legislators, calling for action. They do not want to hear, “You are in our thoughts and prayers” again. They want action to make schools, churches, concerts and shopping malls safer. They are tired of attending the funerals of their classmates and teachers.
Much time is spent organizing marches and demonstrations, giving tv and newspaper interviews, encouraging voter registration and educating the public on the need for legislation that addresses the causes of gun proliferation and violence. As in the past, they often hear empty slogans and promises.
“Code Red” has become a familiar sound for students, informing them that an active shooter is in the building. This is followed by calls to anxious parents, hoping this will not be the last communication.
According to the American Public Health Association, between 1999 and 2017 there were 69 high-fatality mass shootings, involving high capacity magazines, resulting in a 62% higher average death toll. Bans on high capacity magazines appear to reduce the incidents of mass shootings and the numbers killed.
What needs to happen? Congress needs to pass bills that eliminate the manufacture and sale of high capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons such as the AR – 15 and AK 47. Police around the country support this ban.
These weapons are intended for military use, and the only reason to have one is to kill many people in a short period of time. The 2017 Vegas concert shooting, which killed 59 people and injured more than 500, is proof of that.
Finally, Congress needs to pass a universal background check bill that requires anyone wanting to buy a weapon to pass a background check. At present, only 60% of those wanting to buy a weapon go through a background check; those purchasing a gun at a gun show are not required to go through a background check. Only 13 states have a universal background check in place. The Brady Bill, which provided for such background checks, was signed into law in 1994. allowed to expire in 2004 by the Republican-led Congress and President George W. Bush.
As common good voters in 2020, we are called to vote for senators and a president who will take protecting students and all citizens from mass shootings seriously, by enacting responsible, common-sense laws to stop the slaughter and to end the national “code red.”
Act to Help Those Suffering from the Pandemic
The Senate is rushing to place a new Supreme Court Justice and Congress is set to leave town soon. Neither government body has provided relief to those who are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy. Families cannot wait any longer. Failure to act would leave millions of people struggling to pay rent, buy food, afford healthcare, maintain employment, and meet their basic human needs.
As followers of Christ, we are called to create a society where the needs of the poor and vulnerable are always considered first. Tell your Members of Congress it is time to put aside partisan politics and come to an agreement that supports those who are poor and vulnerable during this pandemic by:
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), recently signed a joint letter with Catholic leaders calling our lawmakers to action. Read it now.
Learn more about the USCCB’s most recent call to action and the specific requests for policies that protect those who are poor and vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.
Click here to add your name to the letter from the USCCB.
US Catholic Nuns Against Human Trafficking Voter Guide The USCNAHT has released its voter’s guide for those interested in preventing human trafficking,. This non-partisan guide offers readers information on the issue of human trafficking and how to determine the views of the candidates in their area. Click here to read.
Is There a Catholic Vote?
The Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage at Loyola University/Chicago presented a fascinating zoom conversation regarding the Catholic vote. Click here to view the program on YouTube.
Become a Poll Worker Are you interested in serving your nation and your community as a poll worker? Click here to learn how!
Nuns on the Bus The 2020 Nuns on the Bus tour is virtual, so grab your laptop or tablet and ride along! Click here for a blog from Sr. Michele Morek of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount St. Joseph, Kentucky, featured in Global Sisters Report.
The following Letter to the Editor, co-signed by Kentucky congregations Dominican Sisters of Peace, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community and Ursuline Sisters of Louisville was sent to the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Record, the diocesan magazine.
The grand jury announcement on Sept. 23 in the Breonna Taylor case of three counts of wanton endangerment for Officer Brett Hankison and no charges for the other officers involved, has left us with feelings of great sadness and injustice for her family, friends and our entire community. We pray for peace in Louisville and our country at this moment.
We have seen firsthand the deep divide this tragedy has caused in our city and in our nation. Breonna’s death has brought to the surface the history of systemic racism in the United States. We, the elected leadership of religious congregations of women in and around the Louisville area, feel the rage and despair of this moment.
As majority white communities, we recommit to prayer, self-examination, and advocacy. We support the right to peaceful demonstrations. We call for fundamental reform in the way policing is done in the United States and call for legal reform to strip away protections for those who bring violence and death to unarmed black people.
We call for and commit to REAL change to bring REAL peace, the peace that comes when all have enough, when all are treated with respect. Every person is a precious child of God. Breonna Taylor. Say Her Name. She is a precious child of God.